For the first time forest tree seeds will be officially deposited and stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The event is scheduled for 26 February 2015. This is an important contribution to the conservation of genetic resources.
Initially, accessions will be of Norway spruce (Picea abies ) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) which are the commercially most important tree species in the Nordic region.
The aim of the storage is to secure longterm conservation of forest trees, for three different purposes:
Conservation of back-up seed, for conservation purposes
Monitoring of long-term changes in genetic diversity of the natural forest
Monitor changes in genetic diversity taking place during breeding operations
The genetic diversity of forest tree species worldwide is influenced by a number of factors, of which climate change and forest management activities are most important for the major forest tree species. Fragmentation of populations, browsing, pests and diseases are other factors of varying importance.
Therefore, conservation of forest genetic resources has a high priority, including the monitoring of changes in genetic diversity over time.
A total of 218 seed lots from the Norwegian Forest Seed Center are now selected for the Svalbard seed vault. The oldest one, a pine sample from Tranøy in Norway, is from 1938 and viability tests still show 78 % germination.
Seeds from forest trees will be stored for future generations at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Photo: Anna Rehnberg/Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute
The long term storage of forest tree seeds at Svalbard is a Nordic cooperation, involving the countries Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway. Further accessions of seeds will be provided also from the other participating countries.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is established in the permafrost in the mountains of Svalbard, is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections around the globe. Ensuring that the genetic diversity of the world’s cultural plants is preserved for future generations is an important contribution toward the reduction of hunger and poverty in the world.